Cruising For Dummies: The Dos and Don’ts For a Successful Cruise

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We don’t mean you’re looking for dummies, though with over three-thousand other passengers that shouldn’t be hard to do. Here are some tips, gleamed from experience, that should help you have a successful cruise.

It’s all in the Name
If you’re sailing on a cruise ship remember, it’s a ship, not a boat. These guys take it seriously and will correct you every time you call it a boat. It’s kind of funny at first but according to the Wife, it gets old about, oh, the 5th or 6th time.

Respect the Uniform
These crew guys all look real spiffy in their uniforms. So spiffy in fact, you can be easily fooled. On my first cruise, I had a riveting, though one-sided conversation with the captain for a good ten minutes or so before I realized not only was he not the Captain, he was patiently waiting to bus my table. After that, I learned the only crew member I needed to address as “Sir” was my bartender.

You Better Shop Around
You don’t have to necessarily buy through the cruise line. You could always take one of those many offers we all get in the mail, but that usually includes a time-share presentation commitment that is never worth the deal, and also lets the wife know what a cheapskate you really are. There are several alternatives such as Cruises Only and Cheap Cruises who offer discounted rates. Sometimes with these outlets you have to wait until closer to the date than you may be comfortable with, but the deals are substantial. Plus no one really needs to know how cheap you are…

Don’t Be Late
If you’re flying or traveling any great distance to meet your ship, you probably should come in the night before. If you are late arriving for the ship’s departure, just like the Rolling Stones said about time, this ship waits for no one. If you incur any airline delays, which we all know never happens these days, you will literally miss the boat. You should consider booking a room in your departure city and come a night early. Just think of it as your personal “Bon voyage” party night.

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Don’t Be Fooled
They make you believe all expenses are covered in your original price but that actually only covers your room, transportation once you board and all your food. Now, if you’re the type who gets drunk on food, you’re in luck; but if you need liquor for that high, you may be in for a surprise. Also be aware when you book off-shore excursions, buy those shipboard photos, or just have to have that fridge magnet in the gift shop, that is all coming back to you on that last night bill.

Drinks Are on You
For some of you, and I’m not naming names, the liquor bill will be the biggest expense. If you drink beer, it’s not too bad; but the fancier the cocktail the higher the price. If it has fruit or an umbrella in it, you’re in for it as well. If you must have a Foo-Foo drink like a Pina-Colada, buy it from the bartender. The servers walking around the pool with a tray of the Drink-of-the-day are usually way more expensive. If you’re thinking of sneaking liquor aboard, which none of us would do, you still have to pay for soft drinks. You can buy a cruise-long card that is good for unlimited soft drinks or you can just learn to love iced-tea.

It’s Cash-less Society
Everything is charged to you room which has been assigned to your credit card. No cash passes hands other than the tips you are recommended to dispense to the dining room wait staff on your final night. What some don’t realize is that at least 15 percent is added to every single drink you order and is on your credit card. They say no tipping is allowed and you should never pass cash to the bartender. Have you ever seen a bartender refuse a tip? I didn’t think so. You will receive better service and possibly a few free drinks if you discreetly pass the buck.

Prepare for the Withdrawal Symptoms
After a few days of unlimited buffets, 24 hour snack bars, and an ice cream cone machine that never stops calling your name, prepare for the real world on your return. For a few days after a cruise, you will get shaky if you are forced to go more than an hour and a half without a meal. It’s a common affliction and will eventually pass.

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